Wildlife Conservation

Facts:

  • Global wildlife populations have fallen by 58% since 1970 and if the trend continues then two-thirds of wild animals may go extinct by 2020
What are the objective of conservation?
Parks in India carry two prime objectives:
  1. protection from exploitation of the target species
  2. long-term preservation in a natural state.
  3. Ensure a balance between needs of people residing inside/near parks and need of ecosystem
 
What are the steps taken by government for conservation?
  1. The names of protected species of animals, birds and plants have been mentioned at Schedule I of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  2. The Union Government has established a country-wide protected area network for protection of these species and their habitats of threatened flora and fauna under Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  3. The network includes 730 Protected Areas including 103 National Parks, 535 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 26 Community Reserves and 66 Conservation Reserves in different bio-geographic regions.
  4. Legal protection has been provided to wild animals under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 against hunting and commercial exploitation.
  5. Special programmes like Project Elephant’ and ‘Project Tiger’ have been launched for conservation of these endangered species and their habitats.
  6. In Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSC) of ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’ a specific component of “Recovery programmes for saving critically endangered species and habitats’ is provided for focused conservation action on selected critically endangered species.
  7. Financial and technical assistance is provided to the State/ UTs under the CSCs for providing better protection to wildlife including endangered species and improvement of its habitat.
  8. Under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been empowered to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders.
  9. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has been set up to ensure co-ordination among various officers and State Governments for the enforcement of law for control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its products.
  10. National Biological Diversity Act (NBA), 2002 has been enacted to ensure protection of threatened species and their habitats.
  11. Under the Section 38 of the NBA, 2002 the species which are on the verge of extinction or likely to become extinct in near future as threatened species, are notified.
  12. Botanical Survey of India (BSI) has brought a number of endemic/threatened plants under cultivation (ex-situ conservation) in its and associated botanic gardens
 
What are the conservation challenges faced by wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in India? Suggest solutions to address these challenges. (200 Words)
 
Conservation challenges:
  • Road/Railway lines inside protected areas
  • Uncontrolled passage of heavy vehicles during night-time.
  • Man-animal conflicts:
    • No park exists in isolation as the areas surrounding parks are developed for living space, agriculture, mining, forestry, and more.
    • The iconic species protected inside the parks don’t recognize boundaries and must often move in and out of the parks to feed, mate, or migrate. man animal conflicts like the leopard case in Bengaluru recently.
    • Illegal livestock grazing, illegal fishing, unplanned tourism infrastructure, highway traffic, tourism pressure, crop raiding, etc
  • Threat from invasive species:
    • Non-native species can cause havoc once they move in.
    • Invasive species such as water hyacinth and Mimosa are great threats to Kaziranga. Water hyacinth clog water bodies and depletes oxygen in the water. It threatens underwater life and shrinks the size of water bodies.
  • Habitat loss:
    • Due to flood and siltation, size of water bodies inside the park are shrinking. Siltation also affects the grazing areas of herbivorous animals.
  • Poor infrastructure:
    • Lack proper infrastructure and manpower for efficient monitoring, management and protection of wildlife.
    • The rangers and frontline staff deployed in many parks and sanctuaries lacks modern weapons, advanced communication systems and efficient means of transportation. There is also lack of proper camps and watch towers.
  • No bottom up approach and involvement of community:
  • Mining, petroleum prospecting, clear-cut lumbering, and other developments are generally prohibited inside parks—but they still pose serious threats to water quality, clean air, and other vital aspects of the park environment.
  • Natural disasters and uncertainty due to climate change – floods, forest fires and drought.
 
Solutions:
  • Involve local communities in decision making like Critical tiger habitats Gram Sabha is given importance similarly the forest rights act
  • Wildlife crossings are structures that allow animals to cross human-made. More such crossings should be constructed in wildlife rich areas.
  • Primary infrastructure such as all-weather approach roads and bridges to the park should be constructed
  • Anti-poaching camps should be reconstructed.
  • Patrolling and wildlife monitoring should be taken up on a priority basis and scientific studies to ascertain the status of key species should be undertaken with the help of research organizations.